I have been most fortunate in that, during the course of writing Music Within Reach, many readers have suggested attainable pieces that have worked for their choirs and several composers have sent some of their own works that they think fit the bill. On occasion, I would like to take the opportunity to feature some of these pieces.
The first I will share this week was sent to me by the great composer Daniel E. Gawthrop. It is his setting of text from the first chapter of Philippians, “And This I Pray”. Set for SAB and organ, this piece is highly accessible to smaller church choirs and beyond. Through-composed, its many key changes, meter changes, and shifts between homophony and polyphony do not make the piece difficult; rather, they make it very interesting and refreshingly complex in a world where SAB can sometimes mean overly simplistic. All three voice parts boast very modest ranges, and the rhythms fit the text beautifully. Published by Dunstan House, “And This I Pray” is available here.
The other piece I will feature is Thea Engelson’s arrangement for SSA of Robert Schumann’s “Er, der Herrlichste von allen” from his song cycle Frauenliebe und –leben. Engelson does so much more than just harmonize Schumann’s vocal line. Instead, she builds polyphony between the voices using that which Schumann himself wrote between voice and piano, creating a beautiful choral texture that builds and reunites as if it were originally meant to sound this way. In true Romantic fashion, there is much chromaticism in the melodic lines, so directors will want to build chromatic exercises and warm-ups that reinforce half-steps and whole-steps into their daily routine. There is also a lot of German, so teaching the piece will be an investment, but the product will pay off handsomely in return. Engelson’s arrangement is published by Santa Barbara and is available here.
I always love to hear from composers and, of course, from other readers who have pieces to share. Feel free to post in the comments or to e-mail me at .
Brandon Moss is a choir director, teacher, and composer/arranger living and working in Central Ohio. He teaches at Central Crossing High School, directs the Chalice Choir at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, and serves in leadership roles with the Ohio Choral Directors Association and the Ohio Music Education Association. He is currently working on the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting at The Ohio State University.